Kung Fu Tacos: Interview with Jonathan Ward, co-owner

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on September 8, 2009

A week or so ago, I came across Kung Fu Tacos, which seems similar to Don Chow Tacos down in LA. Fortunately for me though, they operate within BARTing distance of my house — in SF’s Financial District — obviously I can’t wait to try them out. I hit up co-owner Jonathan Ward (pictured above) for the details.

1) What’s a Kung Fu Taco? What are your various options? What’s on the menu?

Food with fighting spirit. We have a simple menu that we plan to evolve over time with various specials. For now there are 5 options. We have Asian Asada (beef), Nun Chuk Chicken, and Mushu Veggie for $2. The come topped with onion, cilantro, and our spicy Asian salsa. We also have two specialty tacos that are $3: Roast Ruck and Char Siu (glazed roast pork) that are topped with fresh mango salsa, green onion strips and green papaya.

2) How’d you guys get started? What’s your background in cooking/eating?

I have a product management background in the tech industry but have always had a passion for food and cooking. My business partner Tan has his own restaurant called Candybar in SF’s Western Addition.

I had been out of work for a year after the company I was working for folded and Tan was looking for a day time business opportunity. We had been following the popularity of the food trucks both in LA and NYC and we saw that there was a similar niche to be filled in the Bay Area.

3) I love that you guys are finally bringing more of this new taco truck goodness to the Bay. As I live in Oakland, I frequent Fruitvale taco trucks often. What trucks were you inspired by? What are your favorite trucks? How much of an inspiration was Kogi and Don Chow Tacos in LA?

El Tonayense was the first truck I tried when I moved to San Francisco a decade ago and I think it will always be my favorite. As for inspiration, I think that every one of the new generation of trucks owes a debt of gratitude to Kogi for kicking this movement into high gear. I haven’t had a chance to try their tacos myself but I hear they are delicious. We didn’t actually hear of Don Chow until we were well into finalizing the concept for Kung Fu Tacos. I have seen their menu though and it looks interesting. Would love to try their Chimales if I ever get back to LA again.

4) What areas of SF are you serving? Will you be coming to Oakland at all? What has been the most surprising thing about operating the truck?

Right now we are focused on our lunch business in the Financial District of SF. We have a space on the corner of Sansome and Jackson that has been very good to us. We are also working on expanding to do happy hour and after hours business so if anyone reading this has a club or bar with some private parking nearby we would love to talk to you.

No immediate plans to operate in Oakland but anything is possible once we start expanding.

I guess the most surprising thing so far has been the reception the truck is getting. People have been lining up since our second day of operation. We really didn’t expect it to catch on that quickly but are very happy that it did. We are working hard everyday to improve the service and keep the wait times down.

5) What kung fu moves can you do whilst eating a taco?

I have nearly perfected my five fingers of death punch but I haven’t figured out a way to do that and serve tacos simultaneously. Guess it is a work in progress.

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